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BDP joins our April forum to speak on connected housing with infrastructure

Image: CGI of Waterway House, Nottingham, courtesy of BDP

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Tom Hewitt, Architect Director at BDP, will be joining our April forum 'Infrastructure, construction and energy' in London, to discuss the important issue of building homes connected to sustainable transport.

Tom is a Design Director specialising in commercial sectors and urban regeneration projects with responsibility for the overall design integrity of projects.


Initially focused on large international developments, he is now a Director based at BDP's Birmingham office and is heavily involved in the conceptual development of schemes across all commercial sectors. Tom’s role spans inception and feasibility stages to the conceptual development and design champion roles through delivery stages.

His wide sector experience ranges from Urban Regeneration and Placemaking, Retail and Leisure to Residential and Office design and he is currently the lead for Urbanism, Retail and Residential for the Birmingham Studio. Former president of the Birmingham Architectural Association, Tom continues to support the Birmingham School of Architecture and local community initiatives.

At Future Cities Forum's April event he will join the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, EDF Renewables, LDA Design and Grimshaw among other contributors.

In recent news, plans for BDP to rejuvenate the site of a derelict office building in Nottingham have taken a significant step forward as Rainier Developments has received planning approval for a residential project close to the railway station. Waterway House, located on Waterway Street, promises to breathe new life into the area with the creation of nearly 200 modern apartments.

The 0.62-acre site, acquired from Nottingham City Council by Rainier Developments last year, is being transformed into a highly sustainable, community-led place, including an eight-storey residential block featuring 191 one and two-bedroom apartments. The development will contribute to the city’s overall housing stock mix and meet the significant demand for homes of this type and size in the city.

The design approach blends the surrounding urban and suburban landscape and also incorporates a smaller southern block as a transitional element, which reflects the shift from city scale to suburban living. In line with Nottingham City Council’s commitment to become the first carbon neutral city in the country by 2028, the new homes are designed to reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Future Homes Standard which sets out the Government’s pathway for net zero homes. Amongst other sustainable design interventions, the homes include green roofs, solar panels and air source heat pumps.

Tom Hewitt, Architect Director at BDP, explains: “Our design reflects our appreciation of the site’s history and its location at an important gateway into the city as well as recognising the need for more sustainable and accessible homes in Nottingham. The result is a development with a distinctive character and which we believe creates a unique sense of place that residents and local people can be proud of.”

The integration of green spaces is inspired by suburban life in Nottingham and the connection with green areas nearby. Terraces adorned with greenery extend into a central courtyard, creating a direct correlation between the built environment and the green corridor of Meadows Way. The development seeks a net gain in biodiversity through the inclusion of integrated bird and bat boxes and wildlife-friendly planting, protecting local habitats and species from the changing climate.

The design creates a 360 degree development where residents living on the ground floor will have access to their apartments, directly from street-level. The apartments are raised up to provide some privacy, offering views of the green space while enabling active frontages on Arkwright Street, Newthorpe Street and Waterway Street.

In respect of the local architectural character, Waterway House will utilise design features and materials that reflect and reference the nearby Victorian buildings, using inset windows, brick colours and details which are reminiscent of the personality of central Nottingham.

Tom continues: “It is fantastic to see this project approved at the council’s planning committee. The design underscores Rainier Developments' commitment to sustainable and community-centric places. Our design concept brings life to an enhanced public realm and by incorporating feedback from local stakeholders, we are sure that the building will enrich the local built environment and open a new chapter of urban living in Nottingham.”

Will Blacker, Land Director at Rainier Developments, said: “Waterway House has an important role to play in supporting the city’s rising demand for homes, so I am delighted to see this development edging closer to reality having worked closely with the city council planning team.

“The site is set within an area of Victorian heritage that is still seen to this day in other nearby buildings which we wanted the new development to respect, and so the new-look Waterway House will reflect this.

“Developments of this type only serve to enhance Nottingham’s profile as a desirable destination to live and work – especially with the nearby links to rail, tram and bus – and I am looking forward to seeing the development come to life.”

With planning approval secured, Rainier Developments is poised to commence work in the Spring 2024.

Tom spoke at our London forum in November 2022 about how bus travel in some locations, could be as important to the regeneration of towns and cities as the big infrastructure projects. He suggested that smaller infrastructure projects like Leicester's new net zero bus station at St Margaret's are often quicker and easier to deliver:

'We have seen how the raft of huge projects are often marred with issues of support and the advantage of smaller projects is that they are not subject to same kind of problems. You can get on and deliver them in a shorter time and Leicester bus station is a case in point. It deals with wider areas and connections via National Express and connections to airports.

'The council was very positive on building a net zero bus station and there was the opportunity to embed it with good landscaping. We advised them to re-develop the original bus station where it was, of course extending and adapting it, but with a saving of some £2 million in costs. It was a much more pragmatic approach, delivered during Covid and giving a significant transformation, while safeguarding the apron space.

'It presented a more sustainable station and the wayfinding from it to the Haymarket Station organised by the Council across 200 yards of desolate car parking, created a connected vision.

Below: BDP's Tom Hewitt third from left at Future Cities Forum's infrastructure and development discussion at DLA Piper London in November 2022, alongside Historic England, Aviva Investors, Lewisham Council, Transport for London and Lambert Smith Hampton


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